Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spring in Minnesota

It was very hard for me to make the decision to not get a vegetable CSA this year. But with Kyle in school and my working hours getting longer and longer as we dive into wedding season, cooking a large haul of vegetables just isn't realistic. I have instead made a personal commitment to buy local in season veggies and fruit from now until the snow falls at Farmer's Markets preferably, but also at co-ops, and of course from own backyard garden.

I got around to using our Mill City Farmer's market haul on Tuesday night (and Kyle is making a rhubarb tart tonight). I found this recipe on Mario Battali's website for his New York restaurant Babbo (when I get around to visiting Nicki in New York, this is definitely on my list of restaurants to hit) and modified it to incorporate the fiddleheads since I wanted to use them as soon as possible. The recipe is really a spring version of aglio olio which is still one of my favorite comfort foods.

I've eaten but never cooked fiddlehead ferns and found them to be a major pain in the ass. I only used about 1/4 of what we purchased because cleaning them really sucked.

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Every reference to fiddleheads I found on the Internet talked about removing the dried brown casing surrounding the plant. Since these had a furry white casing, I was a little weary of the cleaning technique. If we return the farmer's market on Saturday I'll ask the vendor if they have any tricks to remove it.

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Damn, they are cute though.

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Ramps on the other hand are a pleasure to deal with. Also known as wild leeks they provide the heat of garlic with the depth of flavor you would get from an onion, with a nice fresh twist. I have never met a member of the onion family I haven't liked, so it's no surprise these little guys make make my tongue happy.

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Now, onto the recipe:

Spring Aglio Olio

1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh ramps
1/2 cup cleaned fiddle head ferns
A good sized pinch of red chili flakes

Blanch your fiddleheads for 4 minutes in a large pot of boiling water. Remove fiddleheads with a slotted spoon and use the same water to cook your pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain reserving about 1/4c cooking liquid

Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Separate the ramps into roots and greens. Saute the roots until tender

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Add the fiddleheads after about 2 minutes.

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Once tender add the ramp greens and saute until wilted.

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I love how the ramps filled with steam at this point! They reminded me of sea cucumbers.

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Add the drained pasta to the pan and 1/4c cooking liquid. Toss to coat, drizzle with olive oil and a good sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

aglio olio


Amanda said...

Those ramps from the CSA were out of this world! This looks delicious.

De Nueva said...

I am highly excited for this so-called visit to NYC to occur. Any ideas?? :-) Just think of all the cool food we could eat!

Michael said...

Those don't look like the right kind of fern. From what I know (which is definitely not all that much...) ostrich ferns are the desirable variety. They can be identified by a groove running down the length of the stem, sort of like a stalk of celery.